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Happy spring, everybody! This week we used the practice to wake up and the awakening to practice more. We played with consciously using our eyes as well as some new music and movement to wake up the body and break some habits (which sometimes went more smoothly than others).

Below are our playlists for the week. If you’d like to listen to the music, you can find almost all the songs on Spotify (you can listen for free)! As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

And friends, I am always ALWAYS looking for new music. Do you have a song that you love to move to or that moves you? I’d love to know what it is! Please respond in the comments below or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com!

Before the playlists, some announcements of things that are happening!

Nia Jam on Friday, March 29, 5:45-7pm, Studio A, acac Downtown
Join teachers Jeanne, Loring, and Rachel for a Nia* Jam! as they focus on the energy of Spring, a time to Grow and Blossom, with the intent of tapping into empowerment and beauty. This special event will pre-empt Jeanne’s regular Friday night class. As always, for a Nia Jam, you can bring a friend to ACAC for free.
*Nia is barefoot cardio dance set to fabulous music that feeds your body, focuses your mind, stirs your emotions, and uplifts your spirit.

First Friday Freedance with Kate ~ April 5 at 11:25am
Nia Freedance is an opportunity to play and tap into the creative wisdom in our body, emotions, mind and spirit. For a full hour we get to dance together with the intention of stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance will be at ACAC Albemarle Square Friday, April 5 from 11:25 -12:25.

Honoring the Effect of Trauma in our Lives with Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard April 27
Larry Goldstein and Wendy Hubbard lead a workshop on releasing the grip of trauma using structures work, personal stories, and group work. Structures enable a person to go back safely to a traumatic memory with crucial support that was missing then and offers fresh options — an alternative memory – a different outcome in which basic human needs are met and longing for love and protection are fulfilled. This reconstructs inner implicit memory maps in the brain and helps people become viscerally acquainted with feelings that were lacking early in their lives. Pre-course online class Saturday, April 20, 3-5pm, In Person One-Day Class Saturday, April 27, 10-6p, Post-course online class, Saturday, May 4, 3-5pm. Cost $150. Limited to 12 participants. To register and for more information, contact Wendy Hubbard at whubbard0@gmail.com.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Mar 18, 2019, 1045am ~ Wake Up + Practice

Awake My Soul 4:16 Mumford & Sons
Silk Road 8:00 Kitaro
A Gusta 5:39 Safri Duo
On and On 4:19 Suryan
Moon & Sun 6:02 Dalminjo Fjörd Fusioneer
Wake Me Up 4:10 Avicii
Bayami (Extended Dance Remix) 6:11 Ganga Giri
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Wake Up 3:28 The Makepeace Brothers
City Knows Your Name 4:59 Chris Coco
Sleep 4:24 Euphoria

Tuesday, Mar 19, 2018, 840am ~ Wake Up + Practice

Awake My Soul 4:16 Mumford & Sons
Silk Road 8:00 Kitaro An Enchanted Evening
A Gusta 5:39 Safri Duo
On and On 4:19 Suryan
Moon & Sun 6:02 Dalminjo Fjörd Fusioneer
Bayami (Extended Dance Remix) 6:11 Ganga Giri
Wake Me Up 4:10 Avicii
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
City Knows Your Name 4:59 Chris Coco
Sleep 4:24 Euphoria

Wednesday, Mar 20, 2018, 11am ~ Wake Up + Practice

Awake My Soul 4:16 Mumford & Sons
Silk Road 8:00 Kitaro
A Gusta 5:39 Safri Duo
On and On 4:19 Suryan
Moon & Sun 6:02 Dalminjo Fjörd Fusioneer
Wake Me Up 4:10 Avicii
Bayami (Extended Dance Remix) 6:11 Ganga Giri
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Wake Up Everybody 3:35 John Legend & The Roots
Spring Clean 4:48 The Happening
Halving The Compass 5:27 Helios

Thursday, Mar 21, 2018, 840am ~ Wake Up + Practice

Awake My Soul 4:16 Mumford & Sons
Wake Up Everybody 3:35 John Legend & The Roots
A Gusta 5:39 Safri Duo
On and On 4:19 Suryan
Moon & Sun 6:02 Dalminjo Fjörd Fusioneer
Wake Me Up 4:10 Avicii
Bayami (Extended Dance Remix) 6:11 Ganga Giri
Get Up 4:51 Badmarsh & Shri
Wake Up 3:28 The Makepeace Brothers
Spring Clean 4:48 The Happening
Halving The Compass 5:27 Helios

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

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Years ago, I saw a cartoon that has stuck with me (and darn it, I cannot find it now for the life of me even with The Google). It is a father and son sitting in a field looking at the night sky. The boy asks, “Dad, what’s the most powerful force in the universe?” and the father replies, “The force of habit.”

The very fact that you are reading this post indicates that you are interested in mindfulness. At some level, you want to stop sleepwalking through your time and be conscious of how you are living. You may practice in class with me or another teacher and you may have your own practice to support your longing for awareness.

Whatever your practice is, use it as an opportunity to wake up. Use that awakening as an opportunity to practice more.

As much as I want my practice to be my habit, it’s amazing how quickly I lose its thread. After an hour of yoga, I’ll be all Zen and peaceful and Om-shakalaka but nine minutes after walking out of class, I’ll be impatient and irritated in traffic. I’ll absorb the wisdom of a lovingkindness meditation but all it takes is one headline and I turn into a hater. I’ll take a mindful walk by the river, but as soon as I get back in the house, I’m not paying attention to anything but my river of thought.

Use your practice as an opportunity to wake up. Use that awakening as an opportunity to practice more.

Little by little, waking up begins to spill out beyond the formal practice times and spaces. I can choose to practice and choose to be awake and that awakeness leads to more like it. Once I experience aliveness and presence, the more I endeavor to expand that into other areas of my life. I can be present and awake while I’m making dinner or folding laundry, having a conversation with a friend or discussing finances with my partner. The more I can wake up in those situations, the more I am inspired to practice so I can stay present when I feel upset or angry or afraid. The more I practice the more I want to wake up and the more I wake up the more I want to practice.

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!” ~ Rumi

Regular practice slowly begins to shift long-held patterns. Regular practice softens our lizard brain edges and connects us to our humanity. Regular practice allows us to expand what we do in the studio, on the mat, on the cushion into how we show up in our work, our homes and in our relationships. And ultimately, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Use your practice as an opportunity to wake up. Use that awakening as an opportunity to practice more.

This quote from Jane Goodall struck a chord with me. She said,

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

There have been times in my life when I’ve turned my eyes away and decided that my choices didn’t really matter in the big scheme of things. Sometimes I convince myself that it doesn’t really matter if I buy water in plastic bottles or don’t send a thank you note or don’t vote in all the elections. There are so many people and the world is so big, what difference can it possibly make if I leave the lights on or don’t write to my senator about the latest injustice? So I throw up my hands and figure it doesn’t matter.

On the other side, there have been times when I have poured myself, dedicated myself, committed myself to what feels like skillful and right action. My choice, for example, to eat a whole food plant-based diet and not to eat meat or factory-farmed eggs is grounded in my understanding of the catastrophic impact of livestock farming on the environment and that meat is unnecessary for good health. I know that the diet I choose is better for the earth, for my body and it’s definitely better for the animals but when I see that well over 90% of Americans eat meat and a lot of it, I feel the utter futility of my choices. Why bother recycling or writing a blog every week or being kind to strangers?

I’m a drop in the ocean. A grain of sand in the desert. Nothing I do or don’t do can possibly make any difference whatsoever.

And yet my body knows this isn’t true. The small choices I make every day to move mindfully, to drink plenty of water, to sleep and breathe and take care of myself does make a difference. Just one week of sitting in a car and not eating / sleeping / hydrating / moving as I usually do showed up in all kinds of discomforts.

My mind knows this isn’t true. The daily choice to meditate even for a few minutes ripples out in how I approach the world and myself.

My heart knows this isn’t true. My intention to connect with people — my family and friends, my students, my co-workers, cashiers and waiters and delivery folks — has a powerful impact on my sense of my community and my place in it.

I am a drop in the ocean and at the same time I am, as the 13th Century Persian poet Rumi said, “[I am] the entire ocean in a drop.”

I know in my bones and breath and heart that I am connected to everything. My choices matter. This is why I set an intention at the beginning of every class. This is why I choose One Word at the beginning of every year. I know I can’t help but have an impact on the world around me. I get to decide the kind of difference I want to make.


IMPORTANT NOTE: All of this is not to say that I’ve got all this figured out and that when I set an intention I always do it all the time. In fact, that’s absolutely not the case and that’s actually a great thing. We’ll dance with that, my friends, next week.

I’m a worrier. Always have been. My sweet mom used to give me strands of smooth worry beads to carry in my pocket to help ease the thread of anxious thoughts. Once she gave me a broad flat smooth stone with a divot in the center for my thumb. I rubbed it so hard, I broke it in half.

Over the years, I’ve been able to catch myself worrying at least enough to question the habit. Recently, one of my yoga teachers shared this lovely bit of Rumi that made my heart leap.

When I find myself niggling a worry, it helps me to cultivate a combination of stability and mobility. Together these sensations ground me and allow me to see more possibilities than the train wreck that I’m envisioning.

The genius poet Mary Oliver offers the wisdom of stability and mobility in her poem, I Worried.

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

If you’ve followed me at all, you know that my favorite app is Insight Timer, the free meditation app that offers a timer as well as thousands of guided meditations of all kinds. In particular for our focus this week, I like this Healing Vibrations meditation by davidji and this one about releasing worry from Lou Redmond and there are others about letting go of worry, too!

Instead of worrying — beads or stones or strands of thought — find your ground and mobilize your perception of what is possible.

The spaces inbetween – whether it is the spaces in our bodies, in the music, in our breath, or in our lives – can be both uncomfortable and rich with potential. In this season in between the harvest and the darkness, may we remember the power of dancing in the inbetween spaces.

The playlists from the week are below. If you’d like to listen to them, you can find almost all the music on Spotify where you can listen for free! Put the music we dance together with other pieces that lift you up, calm you, and challenge you!

But first, here are a couple of things you want to know about:

Susan Facilitating C’ville Dance Co-Op at Common Grounds on Sunday, November 5, 1030-12noon
I’m excited and honored to be providing the music and holding the space for the Cville Dance Coop on Sunday, November 5 from 10:30-12noon at Common Grounds. If you’re not familiar with the Coop, you can check it out here http://www.cvilledancecoop.com/who-we-are/, but simply put it is a substance free, non-verbal, barefoot, 90 minutes of freedance. No steps to learn, no teacher, nothing but what’s flowing and moving in your own body. I’m calling my playlist Holroyd Tapestry ~ using music from the amazing Bob Holroyd woven together with other favorite artists with the intent of feeling the inextricable connection between us all. I hope you’ll join us.
C’ville Dance Co-op, http://cvilledancecoop.com
Location (Common Ground, 2nd floor of Jefferson School, 233 4th St NW)
Date/time: Sunday, Nov 5: doors open at 10:15am, entrance locks at 10:45am, dancing until noon, then closing circle
What to bring: Water bottle, comfortable clothes, optional donation for Common Ground
Check out guidelines here.

Nia classes for people with cancer, survivors, caregivers & staff at UVA with Susan Tate ~ on Mondays and Wednesdays
Join Susan Tate, Black Belt Nia Instructor for Nia classes with a focus on moving to heal on Mondays, 5:30-6:30pm & Wednesdays,12-1pm on the 4th Floor of the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center. These free classes start October 16 with a kick-off celebration class at 5:30 pm.  Registration is not required. Contact Susan Tate at susan@susantate.orgfor more information.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

*** PLAYLIST NOTE: My playlists can also be found on Spotify https://www.spotify.com/us/ by following “susanmcculley” (no space) and look for Public Playlists. Sometimes music is not available on Spotify so I may replace with another version or skip songs . ***

Monday, Oct 30, 2017, 1045am ~ Inbetweenie

One Step Closer To You 4:41 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Somewhere In-Between (Bonus Track) 3:30 Judah & The Lion
Marisi 6:33 Cantoma
No Quiero Nada Mas 4:46 Sancti Spiritus
Toe Jam (Feat. David Byrne And Dizee Rascal) 3:22 The Bpa
Witchy Woman 4:13 Eagles
Under Pressure 3:58 Queen & David Bowie
Got My Mind Set On You 3:54 George Harrison
Shake Your Hips 3:29 Joan Osborne
Sometimes 5:14 Kaskade
Dance Floor (Nu Brazilia Remix) 5:28 The Tao Of Groove
Sunsethighway 4:00 Kiln
The Space Between 6:02 Zero 7

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017, 840am & 5:35pm with Rachel & Mary Linn ~ Inbetweenie Halloweenie

I Don’t Wanna Know 4:29 John Martyn
By The Rivers Dark 5:21 Leonard Cohen
Mother Nature 4:42 Koko Taylor
Zombie Zoo 2:59 Tom Petty
Witchy Woman 4:13 Eagles
Under Pressure 3:58 Queen & David Bowie
Got My Mind Set On You 3:54 George Harrison
Let’s Go Crazy 4:39 Prince
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) 4:53 Whitney Houston
Me And Bobby McGee 4:33 Janis Joplin
Sweet Little Angel (1990 San Quentin) 3:10 B.B. King
Mood Indigo 4:46 Charles Mingus

Wednesday, Nov 1, 2017, 11am ~ Inbetweenie

Aho 4:47 Ara Lee
Mulatica Mia (Cuba Remix) 5:32 The Tao Of Groove
Palais Mascotte 5:47 Patrick Duvoisin
No Quiero Nada Mas 4:46 Sancti Spiritus
Summertime is in Our Hands 3:48 Michael Franti & Spearhead
Keep On Searching 5:08 Kraak & Smaak
Mussiki é (Jungle Mix) 7:11 Miango
Sometimes 5:14 Kaskade
Hammer and a Nail 3:50 Indigo Girls
Holy War 4:22 Alicia Keys
Sunsethighway 4:00 Kiln
Tvameva 4:15 Sudha

Thursday, Nov 2, 2017, 840am ~ Inbetweenie

Aho 4:47 Ara Lee
Mulatica Mia (Cuba Remix) 5:32 The Tao Of Groove
Palais Mascotte 5:47 Patrick Duvoisin
No Quiero Nada Mas 4:46 Sancti Spiritus
Keep On Searching 5:08 Kraak & Smaak
Mussiki é (Jungle Mix) 7:11 Miango
Sometimes 5:14 Kaskade
Hammer and a Nail 3:50 Indigo Girls
Holy War 4:22 Alicia Keys
Sunsethighway 4:00 Kiln
Let It Go 2:16 Jamie Catto & Alex Forster

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

Halloween marks the space between the harvest and the darkness. It’s a time when it’s thought that the line between life and death is softer. Much of our time in our culture is spent focused on here and there, now and then, you and me. But what happens if we focus on the space between?

If you’re interested in inbetweens, you might enjoy this post from a couple of years ago…Neck & Waist: The Spaces In Between

yes-111716

“…instead of resisting emotional pain, we [can] say Yes to our experience. The instant we agree to feel fear or vulnerability, greed or agitation, we are holding our life with an unconditionally friendly heart.” – Tara Brach

Imagine yourself sitting at a holiday table with your nearest and dearest. The table is set with shining glasses and dishes and is heavy with steaming, delicious food. As you get ready to eat, you ask everyone to say what it is that they are grateful for. The first person says:

“I’m grateful for my family, my friends and this food.”

The next person says:

“I’m grateful for making art with my step-daughter and niece. I’m grateful for my husband’s resourcefulness and his creative mind. I’m grateful for my friend Rebecca’s honesty and deep compassion. I’m grateful for smooth, satisfying potatoes, for rich roasted brussels sprouts, and sweet creamy pie.”

How do these two feel different when you hear them?

The first response is an idea, a thought about those people and that nourishment. The second, a more embodied gratitude, is based on noticing details and specifics about the objects of gratitude.

Gratitude. People have expounded upon it for as long as people have expounded. In this space alone, I’ve written about gratitude not once, not twice, but more more more more times than that. The reason everyone else and I write about it so often is that gratitude, if deeply felt, is a powerful transformational force. Gratitude can change everything.

Going back to our holiday table, I see that I can get stuck in the idea of gratitude instead of living the felt experience of gratitude. At its most basic level, gratitude is about appreciating what is happening now…whatever that is. We will have preferences, likes and dislikes, but real gratitude, gratitude that stretches our capacity to feel our lives, makes space for everything that is happening.

Once when I was all twisted up in my feelings about what was happening in my family, a friend said, “How do you know this isn’t exactly what needs to happen?” I sputtered around for a while about how it was obviously not what should happen, and she said, calmly and peacefully, “How do you know?” I had to admit that I didn’t.*

I think of that conversation often when I’m resisting my feelings about whatever is going on. And I recall that conversation when I read these two extraordinarily wise pieces by two teachers far more articulate and insightful than I could ever be. I recommend them highly.

Tara Brach, The Practice of Saying Yes

John Tarrant, How To Welcome the End of The World

Rumi’s classic poem, The Guesthouse, speaks succinctly of this gratitude practice of welcoming everything fully.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Gratitude is being present to whatever feelings are happening and saying yes, welcoming it all. My ability to fully embrace the challenging parts allows me to be fully present with the joyful, pleasurable, loving ones.

“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

*An important post script: I am in no way suggesting that anyone who has suffered trauma or loss should say “yes” to the loss, only to allow for any feelings that arise. As Tara Brach says in the piece I reference above:

I do caution my students, however, that it is not always wise to say Yes to inner experience. If we have been traumatized in the past, old feelings of terror may be triggered. We might not have the balance or resiliency in a particular moment to meet our experience with unconditional friendliness, and our attempts at Yes might actually end up flooding us with fear. It would be better instead to find a way to alleviate the fear, perhaps by seeking comfort with a friend, doing vigorous exercise, or taking prescribed medication. For the time being, saying No to what feels like too much, and Yes to what simply works to keep us balanced, is the most compassionate response we can offer ourselves.

Deepest regret for my inadequate words and any resulting misunderstanding on this point.

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